Updated: Aug 24, 2022
Back in June, I wrote about my impromptu escapade on a standup paddleboard (see previous blog called “Finding my Adventure”). It was a completely unplanned experience and was the spark that ignited a new interest that I just couldn’t shake. It was fun, challenging, adventurous, and looked so peaceful.
I had only tried it near the shore and only for a few minutes, but that was just enough of a taste to hook me. I wanted to be like the lady who let me use her SUP (standup paddleboard). She had smoothly glided away out to the middle of the water between the beautiful mountains so effortlessly. My experience that day was not so effortless, but I’m not one to shy away from a goal especially once I set my sights on it.
When I last left you in the previous blog, I said I was pricing SUPs. Well, after mentioning it a many times, my husband and I decided to figuratively take the plunge. Little did we know that it would become a literal plunge… That will come later.
I came across an ad for SUPs that were on sale for 1/3 of the price, so we jumped on it, calling it our anniversary present to ourselves. My husband had never done it, and I had about 10 minutes of experience. What could go wrong?!?
About a week later, our brand-new SUPs arrived. I left work as soon as I could free myself, bought lifejackets on my way home, and left for the river as soon as we were packed and ready. My 12-year-old son excitedly came along.
We went to Betts Park, inflated our SUPs (they make good quality inflatable ones that are much easier to transport and store!), strapped on our lifejackets, and looked at each other trying to decide who would go first. I volunteered because I was the most experienced (you know, by 10 minutes). Out in the water I waded until I was deep enough that if I were to fall it wouldn’t hurt but shallow enough that I could easily climb aboard. I got on my knees and paddled. No problem there, so I decided to stand up. At that point, I had been batting a thousand and had never fallen in. I cockily stood up. That didn’t last long. Before I knew it, I was underwater with Allegheny in my sinuses. When I surfaced, I saw that people who had been walking the path at Betts had stopped to watch. Some even sat on a bench to take in the show. It’s times like this that having a photographer for a husband is not handy. He seemed to be a little too ready with the camera…
I am fairly stubborn (let’s say “determined”), so I tried again. And again. And again. By this time, my husband, a solid athlete, was experiencing the same fate. It was much more difficult than I had remembered. We decided that a big difference in my experiences was the river. When I’d done it in the reservoir, the water was lake-like and essentially still. The river at Betts was moving, and moving fast.
My 12-year-old son asked to try. We gave him all of our expert advice, made sure his lifejacket was properly fastened, and took him out. He wobbled some, but, before we knew it, the little punk boy was standing up and easily going up and downstream, even turning around easily. My husband and I determined that the board must be too small for an adult (yeah, that’s it), but that did not stop us from trying again, and again, and again.
We’ve returned a few times and have improved each time, even managing to stand up for stretches of time. Turning around and going upstream are our next goals.
Our motto at the Warren County Visitors Bureau has been “Find your Adventure, Find your Peace.” I’d found the adventure part of paddleboarding. One day, I’ll find my peace and glide my way out on the water away from my troubles while absorbing the beauty and tranquility around me as opposed to getting dunked and taking river home with me in my nose and ears. One day.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the adventure on my way to my peace.
Written by Casey Ferry